It?s Labor Day, and I am happily laboring on writing?but not, as you may have noticed lately, on much writing for this site. I can?t say how long this state will continue. I?ve been working on my novel, and on short stories, and on a personal essay?a little bit of everything because I have so much, at the moment, to teach myself.

The novel, which I?ve been working on intermittently for the last year and a half, has grown more ambitious than intended. So in the same way that I spent four years reading and analyzing dozens of memoirs to teach myself how to write one, I must now get deeper into the nitty-gritty of studying fiction craft and technique. For instance, it would have been a lot easier to try writing a novel in the first person point of view, or at least in the third person aligned with just one character. But no, I?ve taken on third person through three separate characters? points of view, which means I?ve been working on developing a narrative voice that is convincingly within each of these characters? heads. One character is coming through very clear to me at the moment, and it?s the character who is least like me in every way, and that?s not at all what I expected. And of course, the sections of story that each character tells overlap. Which means I?m working a lot on grouping events into coherent chapters, so that the tellings bump against each other like tectonic plates.

I take some encouragement in the fact that I?ve recently written some short stories that I think show a good deal of advancement. Two months ago I wrote a particular short story because I wanted to practice/experiment with an omniscient narration that moves fluidly back and forth between two very different characters? thoughts. It?s a lot more difficult than you might think, and it took a lot of revisiting Flannery O?Connor and Joy Williams to pull it off. I also wrote that piece for the fanciful reason that I wanted to set a short story in a water slide park. I finished revisions two weeks ago and I?m feeling pleased with it.

Between all this and Chronicle assignments, I?ve tended to want to invest whatever writing energy I have left into my personal journal, which is my lifeline to sanity. So I?m sorry I haven?t been around here much. But I?m feeling really torn between journalism and my private (i.e., as-yet-unpaid) writing endeavors, and I?m wanting to horde time to myself.

I can?t promise I?ll post here much in the coming months. I can promise that I?ve got lots of Chronicle articles on the horizon as the fall dance season launches. I?ve got one or two pieces for the Chronicle?s Datebook section each week for the next month, and of course I?ll link to them all here as soon as they?re up.

I?m also heading to New York for a few days at the end of next week, and looking forward to some thought-provoking dance there, including Noemie Lafrance?s newest site-specific work. I?ll write about it here, of course.

So I?m writing. I?m just not feeling chained to the blog. Which I think is a damn healthy thing. Blog-mania, for me, has been like dot com d?j? vu. I remember when I moved to San Francisco in 2000 and all anyone could talk about was e-commerce, and it felt as though if you were a writer and you weren?t becoming some kind of ?content provider? or making inroads with Salon, you were going the way of the Dodo bird. It was ludicrous, of course, and so is this pressure floating in cyberspace?don?t tell me, if you?re a writer, that you haven?t felt it?that if you don?t blog every other day you might as well cease to exist. E-commerce is a tool, a wonderful tool, but it wasn?t about to replace physical stores. And a blog is a publishing tool, a wonderfully useful publishing tool, nothing more or less. It?s changing the way we share information and publish and write, no doubt. That doesn?t mean we have to continue talking about it ad nauseum, and so it?s been a relief to me to see blogs become more integrated with traditional media, to watch them become as normal as the notion of buying stuff on the internet, to notice the blog-frenzy hitting a tableau.

But then I?ve always hated trend-watching. It makes me feel so temporal and mortal.

And I?ve gone on longer than intended here, and with less coherence than I ought to employ. And a night of wrestling with the novel, with a piece of writing that gives anything but instant gratification, that will take years to be ready for publication, if it ever is?God willing!?awaits.

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